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Soroptimists Call For Young Public Speakers
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IF you think that teenage girls restrict their talking to girlie gossip and telephone chit-chat, think again!

Young women from Northern Ireland have an enviable track record in the art of public speaking and their skills are about to be aired in a major, Province-wide competition.

Entries are now being invited for the Annual Youth Award Public Speaking Competition, organised by Soroptimist International, supported by Progressive Building Society.  The competition is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary by having the Final in Stormont hosted by Anna Lo MLA on Saturday 26th February 2012.

The competition is one of the largest held in the Province and is expected to attract more than a hundred entrants who will compete for the honours, a handsome perpetual trophy, a £250 bursary and the chance to deliver their speech at the North/South Annual Soroptimist Conference.  The winner’s school will also receive book tokens to mark the win.

The event is open to girls in Years 12 and 13 from schools and colleges across Northern Ireland.  This year they are invited to choose their topics from:

*  The European Union – a victim of its own success?

Serving up some of the topics for Soroptimist International's 30th Annual Youth Award Public Speaking competition, supported by Progressive Building Society, is 2010-11 Northern Ireland winner, Catherine Maguire (back, centre), from Coleraine High; with (back, from left) Downpatrick Soroptimists, Miriam Hamilton, who is also Regional Vice President, and Bridie McKeating, Club President; (seated front, from left) Hazel Holmlund, Incoming Regional Northern Ireland President of Soroptimist International, and Dr Joan Smyth, Chairman of Progressive Building Society.

*  Tuition fees – back to the days when you needed class or brass to go to university?

*  ‘Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites’ (William Ruckelshous, Business Week 18.6.1990)

*  In today’s digital era anyone can be a citizen journalist – is that a good or bad thing?

*  Challenges of an ageing population – is it my problem?

*  2012 Olympics – a ‘winner’ for Britain?

* ‘Equality for women and girls is not only a human right – it is a social and economic imperative’ (Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General)

Looking forward to the annual challenge, Dr Joan Smyth, Chairman of Progressive Building Society, said, “As Northern Ireland’s largest locally owned mortgage lender, Progressive is delighted to support both the Soroptimists and this excellent competition.

“The young women who take part in this annual public speaking challenge will be learning and refining skills which will be of considerable value to them in later life.    The capacity to speak constructively and well in a public setting is an enviable and important talent and our teenage competitors would already stand comparison with many more mature and experienced orators.

“We look forward to spirited and accomplished speeches, but I am sure that, in the very best sense, we will not have heard the last of these talented young women at the conclusion of the competition.”

Hazel Holmlund, Incoming Northern Ireland Regional President of Soroptimist International, said, “Our organisation was established to allow women in management and professions the opportunity to advance human rights and the status of women through service projects.  I feel that this annual competition is an excellent example of those objectives in action.

“The girls who meet in competition have the opportunity not only to polish and showcase their public speaking talents, but also to meet new people and develop valuable inter-personal skills.

“The prospect of speaking in public is a daunting one, made even tougher when it is in front of a judging panel.  In the past however we have seen that our young women are more than up to the challenge and we look forward to some lively and constructive speeches from our candidates this year.”

Any girl who wishes to enter this competition should contact her school, local club convener or Rosemary Fuller on tel. no. 028 9265 1088/ [email protected] Entry forms to be received on or before 16th October 2011.

Soroptimist International (SI) is a worldwide organisation for women in management and the professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women.  The word Soroptimist comes from the Latin words soro meaning “sister” and optima meaning “best”, and loosely translates as “best for women”.

SI is a leading non-governmental organisation that has consultative status at the United Nations.

There are 14 clubs in Northern Ireland: Ballymena, Ballymoney, Bangor, Belfast, Coleraine, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Lisburn, Londonderry, Lurgan, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, and Newtownards.

The Public Speaking Competition has been organised by Soroptimist International and has been running since 1982.

(The competition is open to secondary and Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland – young women in Years 12 and 13, entrants can register to take part via their school or by contacting Rosemary Fuller on tel. no. 028 9265 1088/ [email protected] )